China launches world's first 6G satellite - but no one knows what it is

The media reported that one of the 13 new Chinese satellites launched on November 6 into orbit by the Long March 6 rocket is the Tianyan-5 vehicle. It is the brainchild of Chengdu Guoxing Aerospace Technology and is based on the development of a leading Chinese university in Chengdu. Tianyan-5 is designed to explore Earth, but it will also test transmitter performance for a new 6G network that does not yet exist in nature.

The main oddity about the 6G news is that even its predecessor, the 5G communications system, is still in its infancy. So what is 6G then?

5G networks operate in the millimeter-wave frequency range between 30 and 300 GHz. Their advantage over 4G is colossal - under optimal conditions, the data transfer speed in such a network is 100 times higher. Alas, communications in the world are developing so quickly that this bandwidth is no longer enough. Therefore, 6G already uses the submillimeter range, the region between infrared light and microwaves, transmitting signals using terahertz waves. The estimated speed of data exchange in the 6G network exceeds 100 Gbps.

However, these are only approximate parameters, because the global 3GPP partnership has not yet approved the parameters for 6G technology. The Chinese act at their own peril and risk, so the satellite is not equipped with a communication system, but a test emitter. The fact is that water vapor in the earth's atmosphere absorbs terahertz radiation very well, which is already hindering the expansion of 5G, and will definitely create problems when deploying 6G. And is it worth then to hurry up with its introduction? It might be worthwhile to wait for new suitable technologies to emerge.